Fashion Police Question Whether Michelle Obama’s Bare Arms Are “Appropriate”

Though I certainly do like pretty clothes, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fashion buff — and I usually ignore all of the commentary surrounding Michelle Obama’s wardrobe choices, even though I rather like most of her picks, too.

That is, I ignore it until the commentary on whether her dress was flattering starts to take a particularly sexist turn, into the realm of policing what it is and is not appropriate for women to wear, and which (not explicitly sexual) parts of women’s bodies are and are not appropriate for public appearances.

And that seems to be exactly what’s happening with regards to Michelle’s frequent choice to wear sleeveless dresses — such as the one she wore to the State of the Union address last Tuesday (above).  The Huffington Post reports:

Michelle Obama made the sleeveless dress something of a signature look this past week, choosing to bare her arms four times in seven days.

The First Lady impressed many, but also made a few waves on Tuesday night when she broke with tradition and wore a sleeveless Narciso Rodriguez dress to the President’s address before Congress. Opinion was divided over whether it was appropriate to show so much skin at such a ceremonial event.

“‘Does the lady not understand that these Big Speech Events are serious and important? Not a cocktail party?'” wrote one Chicago Tribune reader. “”The season is winter. The occasion is business. Dress was wrong place and time.'”

But what particularly interests me is the response out of the White House:

Social Secretary Desiree Rogers defended the decision, telling the Washington Post that Mrs. Obama’s feeling is “If I want to wear no sleeves to hear my husband speak, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Damn fucking straight.  Michelle Obama doesn’t need kindhearted Chicago Tribune readers — or anyone else, for that matter — explaining the importance of various official events in a condescending tone.  I’m sure she understands perfectly well on her own, thank you very much.  Maybe she’s just radical enough to not see (*gasp*) women’s shoulders as “inappropriate.”  And maybe, just maybe, she can wear whatever the hell she wants.

via Michelle Obama Watch


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63 Responses to Fashion Police Question Whether Michelle Obama’s Bare Arms Are “Appropriate”

  1. AL says:

    ugh, this combined with People’s use of “helpmate”when describing Michelle Obama makes my blood boil. oh noez! she exposed her SHOULDERS! what crap

  2. jenny says:

    Geez, its not like she showed up in a tube top and short shorts. Or a sweatshirt? LOL. There’s nothing wrong with how she’s dressed. She’s got nice arms so it still looks dressy.

  3. Nia says:

    I don’t think the question is baring skin so much as wearing clothes that defy convention. For example, if Hillary Clinton was meeting foreign presidents on a long, flowy skirt, she wouldb’t be showing her legs but it would look too informal.

    We had a similar controversy in my country a couple of months ago because the defence minister, a woman, wore a tuxedo to an extremely formal ceremony and people discussed whether she was “not wearing a long dress” (unacceptable breach of protocol) or “wearing a tuxedo” (correct because it would have been correct for a man).

    I don’t know if there were similar protocolary rules on this occasion, but after seeing the dress I think it’s the equivalent of men attending without a tie. Would it matter to the press, then?

  4. Lance Hunter says:

    Okay, I admit I’ve cracked a joke or two about Michelle Obama’s “War on Sleeves”, but when you’ve got arms like her I can completely understand letting the arms and shoulders free whenever possible. Her taste has proven impeccable so far, and unless she starts rocking spaghetti straps at the State of the Union, I think the real fashionistas will be on her side.

  5. Nia says:

    oh, lance and jenny, so that means that those of us without perfectly toned arms should not dare to show them in public in case we don’t look dressed up enough?? A toned body is equivalent to nice clothes???

  6. Hilary says:

    Geez, she’s a grown woman, she can dress herself! And she was so stunning in the Narciso Rodriguez dress, how can anyone argue with that? Michelle Obama is a classy, classy lady who knows what she’s doing.

  7. norbizness says:

    “One Chicago Tribune reader.”

  8. Queen Victoria says:

    Today, bare shoulders; tomorrow they will be exposing their ankles! We are not amused.

  9. Lance Hunter says:

    The relation between the body and the clothes on the body is always important in fashion. A toned body is aesthetically pleasing, and can convey an image of power. That isn’t to say that a toned body is required to be fashionable, but it can give the individual bearing it a different set of fashion options than someone with a body type that is not as toned.

    Of course, fashion is art (at least, it is on the kind of level where Michelle Obama is operating), so fashion criticism falls into the same kind of very subjective place as art criticism. That’s why simple rules like “wear sleeves at formal events” don’t really apply. What matters is the image and aesthetic that she conveys. In her outfit at the speech to the joint session of congress, Michelle Obama looked elegant and powerful, and the sleeveless look helped convey that image. The outfit helped serve the image, and the image was appropriate for the event. Therefor, the outfit was appropriate for the event.

  10. Emily says:

    She does have impressive arms. I don’t think that means that arms must be impressive in order to be shown, but it might suggest that she particularly likes to wear sleeveless clothes because they flatter her. I haven’t heard anything about sleeveless dresses being inappropriately informal. They may be less professional, but she’s not really there in a professional capacity the same way that a female member of Congress or Senator is. Certainly ball gowns and such are often sleeveless, or completely strapless, and that is not considered “informal.” I think it was appropriate because she’s the first lady, and she’s there in her personal capacity as spouse rather than her professional capacity. If Nancy Pelosi was wearing a sleeveless dress I think that would be different.

  11. WOW! Talk about a coincidence! On the train home last night, these two women sitting next to me starting having this long-ass conversation about how they think it’s brave and stylish and ground-breaking (THEY REALLY USED THAT WORD!) that Michelle Obama has been showing off her arms. At first I didn’t really pay much attention, but after a while I just sort of stared at them in amazement like “huh?? why on earth are you talking about this?”

    This is so bizarre to me. She looks fine, but I’d be okay with her wearing sleeves too… or a cloak… or walking around naked… whatever!

  12. Rachel S. says:

    I believe Michelle Obama, our First Lady TYVM, should be respected and revered for her sleeveless dresses. After all, who else in Washington DC is taking such bold action to express her 2nd Amendment rights and baring those arms for all to see!!! And in the winter even! She is one courageous lady.

    Good grief. She’s a grown ass woman, AND the First Lady of the United States, I’m pretty sure she’s got a handle on what is appropriate when.

  13. Paula says:

    I consider Michelle Obama to be a vibrant & attractive young woman.
    She has made an attractive appearance in her many outfits since moving into the White House. I do not have any problem w. sleeveless dresses where the events invite such. But, I do find the no sleeves no shoulders look to be more consistent w. an exercise top than an ‘official’ event. For example, her WH portrait would still have looked marvelous if the black dress had only been sleeveless but had her shoulders covered.

  14. Rosanna says:

    Props to Michelle Obama!

  15. Kaija says:

    I find this whole “controversy” or even that this is newsworthy to be somewhat hilarious…and a throwback to another generation or two. Baring your arms is scandalous?!? She had on a very flattering and dressy outfit and looked stunning. She didn’t wear shorts or a tank top or a miniskirt! Fashions and fashion norms DO shift over the years and even though my grandmother would not appear at a public event without a dress, pantyhose, pumps with heels and a matching bag doesn’t mean that I’m going to follow that convention.

    This reminds me of the flap when some college women’s sports team met then-President Bush on the White House lawn (not in church or at a white tie evening event) and some people lost their heads because many of them wore flip-flops. Again, it’s a generational thing, I suppose. Many people, men and women, now wear flip-flops as casual footwear (and there are such things as dress flip-flops that are not the same thing as ratty shower shoes). One of my best friends even wore a pair of silver and white flip flops with her wedding dress (and she was comfortable and happy about it!)

    My mother remembers getting crap for not wearing gloves at dress-up events in the late 60s/early 70s…I suppose this is a case of nothing new under the sun.

  16. Eliza says:

    Oh, this seriously chapped my hide. It is still about the body. Like her or my or anyone’s arms are the media’s business. I even heard “progressive” men on the radio commenting that Michelle Obama could “get away” with sleeveless dresses because she has the “arms” for it. So many ways this is crazy. THe revolution will be moving when a woman in public inspires no comment about her body. That includes hair and stretch marks.
    Elizabeth

  17. Michele says:

    As we continue to comment about what a woman wears (note this is never an issue for men) or does not wear, how much or how little makeup she wears, her hair, her ass, her legs, her arms- we continue to objectify women. We continue to give our power to the fashion industry- have they really been so kind or supportive of women’s rights and issues? We continue to ask to be looked at like a hanger or like “arm candy.” Dress the way you want to, wear what feels good and makes YOU happy. And stop judging other women. We are our own worst enemies!

  18. Gladys says:

    She is certainly entitled to wear whatever she wants to wear…she is a very CLASSY lady!! Michelle, keep doing whatever suits you and your family!! :o)

  19. shfree says:

    The only reason why I would object to sleeveless clothes is because it’s winter, and seeing Michelle Obama in sleeveless dresses makes me wonder if she’s cold. I can say without a doubt that once the weather warms up, I won’t give a damn at all.

  20. alanna says:

    i can’t believe nobody has made a “right to bare arms” joke yet. y’all missed out on a witty headline, people.

  21. A toned body is aesthetically pleasing, and can convey an image of power.

    But is a toned body aesthetically pleasing to every single person in America? In the world? Probably not. Could a non-toned body be simultaneously pleasing? YES.

    And a toned body conveys an image of power?

    Madeline Albright – What part of that picture doesn’t scream “powerfuul”?

    Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. She doesn’t look particularly weak to me.

    Janet Reno – Also powerful.

    Golda Meir. Powerful.

    toned =/= powerful-looking

  22. Margaret says:

    Just like Hillary was joked about for her suits, this infatuation with Michelle Obama’s less traditional outfitting is another example of how women are often judged for reasons outside of intelligence and ability. I am not going to say whether or not I think she looks great because it is beside the point.

  23. AshKW says:

    Stupid, stupid conversation. Heh, alanna, I was just remembering that joke. “I think we were perfectly clear; it’s a right to bare arms.”

  24. The Opoponax says:

    And in the winter even!

    I know! In light of the latest NYC cold snap, this is the only thing on my mind when I think about Controversy: Michelle Obama’s Bare Arms. It’s like 15 degrees outside! This was a great little fashion breakthrough post-primaries when it was mid summer and they were doing the whole Michelle Obama: Not To Be Confused With Angela Davis tour. But now I’m cold just looking at her.

  25. SweetSue says:

    Hey, if Michelle Obama is down with shaving her underarms daily she can do the sleveless thing. Jackie Kennedy wore sleveless sheath dresses almost fifty years ago.

  26. Anne says:

    I find it lame that she copies Jackie so much.

  27. dan says:

    Michele,
    Do you think this is never an issue for men in politics as men dont really have any options? Congressmen always wear the same damn boring thing and when the chance arises I do often hear some picking on what men choose to wear albeit only their tie (like Jindal recently) or if once in a blue moon someone has the chutzpah to do their best “bart put in his red hat with my white shirts and bam pink shirt” homer simpson sector 7g impression. Outside of politics I would completely agree with you.

  28. Sailorman says:

    Incidentally, there has also been various commentary on Barack Obama’s formal dress (or lack thereof) in the White House. The focus is mostly on Michelle Obama in the news, but apparently Barack’s lack of formality (no jacket in the Oval Office, etc.) sort of freaks out some White House folks. Heh.

  29. Sanjo says:

    I’m neither American nor interested in fashion, so I already have difficulty understanding all the fuss about what the First Lady wears, but this is beyond incomprehensible to me. What the hell is this, the Victorian era? GASP!!! Cover those shoulders, young lady!!

  30. La Lubu says:

    I think it was appropriate because she’s the first lady, and she’s there in her personal capacity as spouse rather than her professional capacity. If Nancy Pelosi was wearing a sleeveless dress I think that would be different.

    Not calling you out in particular, Emily, but….why? What is so offensive or unprofessional about bare arms? Is it the amount of skin being shown? What? I seriously don’t understand. I think Michelle Obama looks terrific, and I love her sleeveless dresses. On the few occasions I wear something more formal than blue jeans, I always pick sleeveless dresses or a sleeveless blouse & skirt, mostly because designers seem to favor poofy sleeves or cap sleeves or some other ridiculous shit designed to make a woman look more like a poodle or childlike or something. Go sleeveless, and you get to look like an adult.

  31. Fuck all these assholes. I took a quick look at the People magazine Michelle Obama cover at the supermarket the other day, and it was all like, “Michelle Obama on her Daughters, the White House, Parties, and Decorations, and other WOMEN’S WORK!” Fuck me.

  32. Zuzu says:

    She’s, like, six feet tall. Anyone want to bet that she got tired of her sleeves always being too short and just decided to rock the sleeveless sheath instead?

    Funny about the toned arms — not too long ago, arms as toned as hers would have been considered too “masculine,” and aspersions would have been cast on her for that.

  33. Lea says:

    I find it lame that she copies Jackie so much.

    Umm. Oh, oh…I get it. Jackie was the only other woman ever to wear dresses. Forgot about that!

    Jeez…

  34. Malkia says:

    I think had Michelle Obama been white, there would be no inferences as to whether bare arms are appropriate. This is a history making “First Lady” she is free to create and maintain her own style, and if she wanted to go for more cultural attire, you critics might have a heart attack, but it would be well within her rights, if she chose to.

  35. Ellen says:

    Emily, Lance, Jenny, Paula and whoever else that think her attractiveness is part of the issue?

    If Michelle Obama was ugly, and had flabby arms, would it have been wrong for her to wear that dress?

    Probably, you all would be making fun of her having no business wearing that dress. In fact I wonder if Obama could have even gotten elected if his wife had flabby arms.

    What we are supposed to look like is being used to oppress us. Try not to feed into it, please.

  36. Mandolin says:

    “What we are supposed to look like is being used to oppress us. Try not to feed into it, please.”

    Seriously. Very disappointing (if not surprising) to find commentary of the sort you’re arguing against on a feminist blog.

  37. Addie says:

    Eh–I do think there are standards (semi-flexible and shifting as they may be) for what constitutes acceptable levels of formality at various occasions, and I don’t think it’s wrong for people who chat about style to go on about perceived challenges to those standards, and even to come down on one side or the other with judgments about them. I was glad, for example, back when Dick Cheney got called out for wearing a knit cap and parka while sitting outside at some staid occasion of state–a funeral or a Holocaust remembrance ceremony or something. Racism and sexism can definitely affect how people comment on style choices, but I think the mere fact of commentary would happen to anyone who does breach conventional standards. (And I think the fact of that commentary comes up more often for women simply because women are more likely to make daring fashion choices than men–though, again, sexism certainly flavors how that commentary goes.)

    It’s true–both women and men are currently expected to cover more skin at occasions like addresses to Congress, though I’d be fine with that changing (just like I’m fine with women no longer wearing hats and gloves to such events). I do think you’d see people who pay attention to this sort of thing commenting on any prominent woman who went sleeveless to this kind of event, or on any man who went without a jacket or tie.

    Of course, in this case–and in contrast to Cheney’s funeral parka–Obama clearly put thought into looking good and pulled it off (and didn’t sit there all slumped and sullen, the way Cheney did). If, inspiring trends by her example, she makes wearing nice sleeveless dress more of a standard option for this kind of official formality, good for her.

  38. Cara says:

    Yeah, here’s the thing, folks: comments which knock women’s personal appearance and say that overweight women shouldn’t wear certain clothing will be deleted. I don’t care how much you try to shroud it in talk about what is and isn’t “flattering” or how much you try to cover it up with comparing it to a man with a pot belly. It’s getting deleted. Got it? Good.

  39. The Opoponax says:

    I think had Michelle Obama been white, there would be no inferences as to whether bare arms are appropriate

    Yeah. In all of this What Is Michelle Obama Wearing stuff, I get this weird undercurrent of a notion that, because she is Black, or because she is of humble working class origins, or something kind of weirdly unspoken and indirect, she probably just doesn’t know what a First Lady is supposed to wear. Which is ridiculous on a lot of levels, the main one being that Obama is an Ivy League grad and corporate lawyer who is coming from a position as in-house counsel for a university hospital system — I’m sure she wasn’t wearing old Tupac t-shirts and cutoff jean shorts to work before now.

  40. ACG says:

    Not calling you out in particular, Emily, but….why? What is so offensive or unprofessional about bare arms? Is it the amount of skin being shown? What? I seriously don’t understand.

    Bare arms on Nancy Pelosi – while working in her official capacity as House speaker – would be unprofessional because, well, they’d be unprofessional. Generally accepted attire (or is it mandated?) on the floor of the House is business dress, which is why you pretty much always see her in a suit jacket of some kind. She may well have a sleeveless shell on underneath and take her jacket off in her office.

    Michelle Obama doesn’t really do “business dress” events (although when she does, I’m sure she has some bangin’ suits that look great on her and are affordable, because that’s what she does, and I think it’s awesome). I can’t think of any appearance she’d make where bare arms would be horrifically inappropriate. And when Nancy Pelosi is out as “Nancy Pelosi” and not “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” I can’t think of any reason she shouldn’t show her arms as well.

    Or maybe she has some kind of huge tattoo on her arms. A full sleeve with Jeanette Rankin at the top, wrapped in an American flag that’s held by a screaming eagle with an olive branch in its mouth. That could be cool.

  41. chava says:

    Cara: I see you deleted my comment. No, I was not trying to “shroud” anything, and certainly not to knock women’s personal appearance. I was trying to point out that it isn’t morally WRONG in any way for anyone to wear whatever they want. Several people had brought up the word “wrong,” and that wasn’t appropriate. But, it might not be the most flattering thing for him or her.

    I also basically agreed with AGG @40.

  42. I think Michelle Obama’s sleeveless dress is 100% appropriate in that setting. She’s not in the court room or the office. There’s enough fabric around the neck to offset the bare shoulders. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. And she has great arms. If she wants to show them off, more power to her.

    And let me just say that I really hate it when people talk about a woman looking too sexy when she’s showing off her best assets. I bought a few new outfits and shoes a couple of weeks ago, and I tried them on at home and started preening a bit in the mirror. I thought “Damn, I’m bangin’.” And I actually got a little scared. I was dressed completely appropriately for work — a purple pencil skirt, a floral blouse, and brown wedges — but I felt too sexy. I felt like if I wore this outfit outside, I’d get harassed endlessly. It’s not my fault that I’m hot. I got great legs. Michelle Obama has great arms. We both want to look our best when we walk out the door. No woman should have to sacrifice looking her best so that she doesn’t get harassed or criticized for looking great (and then risk being called too frumpy).

  43. Trixe23 says:

    She’s used to Chicago for goodness sake!
    Many of us northern ladies in our forties are quite warm in places like DC!

  44. octogalore says:

    I think Cara’s caution makes a lot of sense.

    I think too that there are two different concepts here. One is whether (a) women need to have a conventionally attractive feature (eg toned arms) to show it and still have it look “professional.” The other is whether (b) because a lot of stupid people whose opinions seem to count in this world believe (a), it’s smart to observe it if you are in a position of power. Most politicians are pragmatists, and that’s why First Ladies (hate that expression) have fashion consultants. If MO didn’t have toned arms, even if she personally didn’t subscribe to (a), as hopefully we here do not, she would likely not be wearing sleeveless dresses.

    So I think a better dialogue here is not to debate the merits of (a) — as Cara points out that is not a debate — but to debate the merits of (b). Should someone in MO’s position who didn’t have toned arms make a statement that she doesn’t give a shit about conventional wisdom, why or why not?

  45. Bekka says:

    She has gorgeous, toned arms. If my arms looked like hers, I’d show them off frequently, too! I think her dresses are beautiful and tasteful.

    Seriously though, are we going to start blurring women’s arms on television because of how inappropriate they are?

  46. Tahia says:

    Michele,
    we are not our worst enemies. Please stop repeating that line. I know where it comes from, but it just is not true. And the motion hurts our cause.

    Ever been raped by a woman? Groped? Catcalled? Been afraid of one, walking home at night? Now I know that happens, too, but it fades in comparison to what men do to us.

  47. chava says:

    Tahia–I have to disagree with this. While I don’t think we are our own worst enemies, women participate in the oppression of their gender all the time. What about the mother who said nothing, knowing the boyfriend or father was raping you in the next room? What about mothers who insist on continuing FGM, even when religious authorities have (finally) begun to call it unnecessary? What about women who cheerfully suggest to their daughters that they should get their breasts reduced, or enlarged, or darn it just be more feminine why dontcha? Or slut shame, or gay bash….I could go on.

    We are not little innocent victims here. And making us into that stereotype diminishes our humanity.

  48. jz says:

    Inspired fashion is contextual. What should any woman wear in the context of showing respect for
    -high ceremonial political speech
    -winter in DC

    To this context, the fashion-inspired woman is
    -middle age
    -desires to highlight her best features

    Would any of you wear a sleeveless dress to show respect for a high ceremonial political speech? I doubt it.

  49. Cara says:

    Why the hell wouldn’t I, JZ? I think that most dresses with sleeves are quite hideous, if we’re being perfectly honest. I’ve nothing against other people wearing them, but on me? In 99% of the cases, no thanks.

    But maybe I’m just not up on the protocol for “showing respect for . . . winter in DC.” WTF?

  50. Would any of you wear a sleeveless dress to show respect for a high ceremonial political speech? I doubt it.

    I don’t get it… what’s the big deal with being sleeveless?? Did I miss that day of fashion class in college or wherever they teach this? I’ve even heard the “just say no to spaghetti straps” rule, but this huge commotion over being sleeveless is confusing the crap out of me…

  51. jz says:

    @cara,

    ………because it fails to show respect for the event.

    -Would you wear pajama pants to a funeral?
    -Would you wear a snowsuit to a cocktail party?
    -Would you wear flip-flops to a first communion in church?

    Didn’t think so.

  52. jz says:

    @frau sally benz,

    sleeveless says, “casual” , In addition, it says, “summer”.

  53. jz says:

    @above,
    I’ll try to stretch my thinking here,
    If the sleeveless dress were paired with conservative shoes, conservative jewelry, heavy fabric, and a conservative structured drape, then maybe, Maybe.

  54. Cara says:

    Well CLEARLY my bare arms are the equivalent of not getting dressed in the morning! Mercy me! Both my fingers and neck are getting sore from such necessary pearl clutching! When will women learn that daring to show their shoulders — of all things! — means you might as well just not have gotten dressed at all?

  55. jz says:

    @cara,
    Please read for comprehension.

  56. Cara says:

    Read it just fine, JZ. You compared wearing a sleeveless dress to the SOTU to wearing pj pants to a funeral. Meaning that you compared a woman showing her arms to not getting dressed in the morning. Seems pretty clear.

    Now I’ve had my laugh, and I’m done engaging you. The only times you’ve ever commented on this blog were in order to purposely be a nuisance. Go do it elsewhere.

  57. hypatia says:

    “I find it lame that she copies Jackie so much.”

    “Umm. Oh, oh…I get it. Jackie was the only other woman ever to wear dresses. Forgot about that!”

    Yeah maybe it’s the generation gap but I get really tired of the comparisons to Jackie O. “Oh my god they have both worn pearls with a black dress! How dare she copy!”

    Let’s face it the majority of women in the White House since Jackie have been women in their fifties and sixties. Her and Michelle’s similarities end at the fact that they are both younger women who are fashion conscious.

    By the way I’ve seen the pictures, my great aunt was out-“jackie-ing” Jackie when Mrs. Onassis was still in diapers.

  58. Chip Bell says:

    Believe you me I have about had it with this gender segregated clothing shit my self. I absolutely love spandex tights. They are sharp, sexy , comfortable and they even support my legs when walking on a hard surface. However since I’m a man when ever I wear them I sooner or later run into some ignorant moron that wants to walk behind me and give a running commentary to their partner on how disgusting my choice of clothing is, You would not believe how disgusting some of thease comments get. For what ever reason it’s typically it’s some conservative looking woman who starts it . Men seem to keep it to dirty looks, or if their drunk and homophobic enough I have gotten wolf whistles from some thugs. I really feel for Michelle

  59. Pingback: Women Conscious Of Fashion | Spucer.com

  60. Angela says:

    Malkia: I don’t necessarily believe that if she were white she wouldn’t be getting harassed about her choice to go sleeveless. I mean, I know that people think Hillary Clinton’s outfit choices were a bit severe, and people in my own family have actually commented that they were happy to see Michelle Obama because she actually wore dresses (this coming from a generation of people in which you weren’t “dressed up” unless you had a skirt or dress on).

    Frankly, I think Michelle is always dressed very well, she is an adult who has held a job in which professional attire is important, i think she can handle this and make her own decisions. Sleeveless in winter, hell yeah maybe it was cold, but thats her own body temperature and thats for her to deal with. But other than temperature, she looks professional, beautiful, and strong.

    I also know that in my family they made a HUGE deal over Obama not wearing a suit jacket and even (OHMIGOD) rolling up his sleeves. I personally looked at my family like they were whackadoos, and just said “why do you care? he’s doing his damn job, and thats what matters. some foreign dignitary isn’t going to give a damn whether he rolls up his sleeves, they are going to care if he is a moron or not, like our former president”.

    Frankly, I think that since Obama has yet to make mistakes like those of George Bush, the media are just seeking out whatever they can get their hands on to bitch about. They did just end a media rich presidency, I think they are still out for blood.

  61. La BellaDonna says:

    Oh, for Pete’s sake. If I was attending a speech by the President (whether he was my husband or not), I’d go wearing a sleeveless dress, or a sleeveless top and skirt. I might carry a jacket, just in case, but these days, I almost invariably go sleeveless, because I now enjoy my own personal summer. Maybe Michelle Obama is, too.

    And for the people who are carrying on as if it was the first time a middle-aged woman’s upper arms had been seen in public: it’s NOT.

    No, I’m not talking about Jackie Kennedy. I’m talking about Dolley Madison – a First Lady who helped her husband win the Presidency, and who was seen in public in teeny puffed sleeves that bared nearly the entire arm. She wore the self-same teeny sleeves when she acted as First Lady to Thomas Jefferson, too, in 1801. For pity’s sake, more than two hundred years has elapsed since then. Are people still shocked that women have arms? Just imagine if Mrs. Obama had worn a neckline like Mrs. Madison’s, too.

  62. Betsy says:

    Aside from being flattering and an expression of her personal style, the sleeveless dresses may be a practical choice. She has broad shoulders, buff biceps, but a slim torso and may find that sleeves don’t fit well. I had this problem when I worked out a lot…I could never wear non-stretchy clothes with sleeves. Back then I was built much like Michelle, same height, etc.. Or maybe she gets hot easily.
    Regardless, I think the focus on “appropriateness” is all about maintaining appearances and is superficial and out-of-date. It is an easy way for people to ignore the actual issues, like what the president is SAYING or what his foreign policies are. And, like someone said above, it gives the media and the GOP something to gripe about. One of the things that has made the Obamas so attractive is their approachability and the way they are trying to break down these old, often pointless, traditions. The sleevelessness may just be one small way Michelle is bringing politics to the people. Internet campaigning, fiscal stimulus package, and sleeveless dresses: the new grassroots movement.

  63. Kristine says:

    I don’t think the issue is sexist. Would anyone be defending Barrack if HE had shown up in a sleeveless shirt?

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